The public in public art

Fata Morgana is now on view at Madison Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Fata Morgana is now on view at Madison Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Martin Friedman  Senior Curator, Madison Square Park Conservancy

Public outdoor sculpture is a communal activity. During periods of art installation, visitors to Madison Square Park can watch a project unfold over days and weeks. People discuss their perceptions and ask questions of me, my colleagues at Madison Square Park Conservancy, the install crews, and the presenting artist. Oftentimes, park goers watch this process with a sense of wonderment and pride; I have seen groups of neighbors applaud an artist at key moments during a temporary work’s on-site creation. Once complete, the public role in public art is further revealed as people interact with the piece by walking around the sculpture, taking their lunch next to the work or considering the merits of the project in conversation with co-workers, friends and family.

Creating outdoor sculpture in an urban oasis like Madison Square Park is unlike any other art experience. In preparation for major shows, museums and galleries draw the curtain for behind-the-scenes activity. When the curtain is pulled back, an indoor exhibition is complete and camera-ready. There is great theatricality on the opening day. By contrast, in constructing public art in real time right before your eyes, people view almost cinematic progress as a sculpture is made.

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Two women attacked with hammers in Union Square

Police sketch of hammer attack suspect

Police sketch of hammer attack suspect

A hammer-wielding nut bashed two women over the head on Monday night in seemingly random attacks in Union Square.

At around 7:30 p.m., a 28-year-old woman who was sitting on a bench in Union Square Park was struck over the head with the tool by an unknown man who’d pulled it out of a bag.

Police and an EMS team responded and the victim was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital, where she was reported to be in stable condition.

Approximately 10 minutes later, a 33-year-old woman walking west on West 17 Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues was also struck on the back of her head from behind. The suspect then fled in an unknown direction.  The blow caused an injury to the woman’s scalp and she was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital in stable condition. Both women have since been treated and released.

The suspect is described as black, in his 30s, with a medium build, and was wearing a black waist length jacket, a dark-colored baseball hat, dark jeans, black sneakers, and a black backpack.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or texting tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are kept strictly confidential.

UPDATE: Police have released a photo of the suspect.

Photo of hammer attack suspect

Photo of hammer attack suspect